A rescue deal for Eddie Stobart that would see its founder’s son drive the troubled haulier’s turnaround is now in pole position to succeed after potential rival Wincanton pulled out of the race.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Monday evening, Wincanton, one of the UK’s largest hauliers, confirmed it would not be making a bid, adding: “it would not be acting in the best interests of Wincanton shareholders to proceed with an offer for Eddie Stobart”.

The company had urged Eddie Stobart shareholders to sit tight on a proposal from Isle of Man-based DBAY Advisors, which would see it acquire 51 per cent of the company and provide a £55 million capital injection, while it conducted a due diligence process.

DBAY has revealed its plan to parachute William Stobart – the fourth child of Eddie Stobart, who founded the company in the 1940s – into a top role to boost the company’s financial performance over the busy festive period, should investors accept its proposal and take the remaining 49 per cent.

Shareholders are set to vote on the BDAY deal at a general meeting on December 6, but Wincanton’s interest – and its “put up or shut up” deadline of Wednesday, November 27, to make an offer or not – had threatened to rival it.

However, Wincanton said it would not be pursuing a bid for Eddie Stobart in light of the company’s failure to provide “critical” information on the company’s underlying profitability, balance sheet, cash flow, and its short- and medium-term capital requirements, along with an auditor’s review into a £2m accounting error which saw shares in Eddie Stobart, which trades on the junior AIM stock exchange, suspended at 70p.

In a statement, which in part referred back to a recent trading update from Eddie Stobart which warned losses for the first half of 2019 could be higher than £12m, Wincanton said: “The recent disclosures by Eddie Stobart have confirmed a material reduction in EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes), poor cash collection and higher net debt.

“Even with the incremental synergies which would be available to a trade buyer such as Wincanton, the Board cannot see how concerns with regards to Eddie Stobart's financial performance and ongoing liquidity can be sufficiently overcome to enhance Wincanton's shareholder value through a combination of the businesses.

“As a result, the board has decided that it would not be acting in the best interests of Wincanton shareholders to proceed with an offer for Eddie Stobart.”

Wincanton’s chairman Dr Martin Read added: “We owe it to our shareholders and other stakeholders not to take disproportionate risks in the development of the business.”

Its withdrawal appears to pave the way for DBAY to complete a deal which has already been agreed with the Eddie Stobart board, but requires shareholder approval.

DBAY – which already holds a 10 per cent stake in the company – has already appealed to shareholders, saying its bid was “a realistic chance to secure value for all shareholders and safeguard jobs for Eddie Stobart’s employees”.

And its deal pins big hopes on William Stobart boosting its performance during the Black Friday and Christmas period.

Mr Stobart would be among a number of big hitting appointments to Greenwhitestar – a subsidiary which holds all of the trading entities within the Eddie Stobart group – by becoming executive chairman.

It would represent what many would see as a romantic return to the business for Mr Stobart – who served as executive chairman of Eddie Stobart Logistics Limited until 2017 – during its hour of need.

Eddie Stobart’s future appears to be hinging on a new deal.

Earlier on Monday, the Unite union – which represents around 1,000 members employees in driving and warehouse roles – accused Eddie Stobart of acting prematurely on the proposal by DBAY and urged it to cough up crucial financial information to Wincanton and “other major logistics companies understood to be interested in the purchase”.

Unite’s national officer Adrian Jones, said Eddie Stobart workers had become “a pawn in a game being played by financiers in the shady world of venture capitalism” and blasted the company for ignoring requests to meet with its officials, who are seeking reassurances over jobs and Eddie Stobart’s long-term future.

“Unite members are extremely concerned that the boardroom games being played by Eddie Stobart which are putting our members’ jobs at significant risk – as well as endangering the transport supply chain for many major companies,” he added.

Eddie Stobart customers include Tesco, Pepsi Co, Nestle, Cooperative, Argos, Coca Cola, Crown Cork & Seal, SCA, Unilever, Britvic, AG Barr, Dobbies, BSW Timber, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson and Heineken.

The company was spun out of Stobart Group in 2014 and, while it is now headquartered in Warrington, it still has a depot at Lillyhall in West Cumbria.